Advice to Young Aspiring Artists from Patti Smith, David Byrne & Marina Abramović

If you dream of becom­ing the next Dis­ney Chan­nel star, you’d do well to heed the advice of cast­ing direc­tor Judy Tay­lor, who uses “read” and “tal­ent” accord­ing to their indus­try def­i­n­i­tions, and seems unlike­ly to cut any­one slack for youth or inex­pe­ri­ence.

If, how­ev­er, you’ve got the soul of a poet, a painter, a musi­cal adven­tur­er, all three, or none of the above, I sug­gest falling to your knees and thank­ing Den­mark’s Louisiana Muse­um of Mod­ern Art for pro­vid­ing you with an alter­na­tive. The week­ly videos on art, lit­er­a­ture, design and archi­tec­ture for its Louisiana Chan­nel are a gold­mine of inspi­ra­tion for non-main­stream types both young and old, but cer­tain seg­ments speak explic­it­ly to those just embark­ing on the jour­ney.

As any num­ber of us geezers can attest, Pat­ti Smith and David Byrne speak with author­i­ty. It’s okay if you’ve nev­er heard of them. If you were three or four decades fur­ther along, you would have.

(As to Mari­na Abramović, go easy on your par­ents if they need to spend a moment or two dial­ing her up on Wikipedia. I’ll bet Pat­ti or David would­n’t peer down their noses at some­one for not rec­og­niz­ing one of the world’s great­est liv­ing per­for­mance artists. Excuse the dan­gling prepo­si­tion, but she’s def­i­nite­ly some­one worth find­ing out about.)

I real­ize I don’t speak for most of Amer­i­ca, but for me, these guys loom larg­er than Jay‑Z and Bey­once com­bined. I also real­ize that in terms of both wealth and name recog­ni­tion, there’s a sta­ble full of teen celebri­ties who leave them in the dust.

Inter­est­ing how all three resist the notion of tal­ent as some­thing to be com­mod­i­fied.

Abramović, above, speaks of artis­tic explo­ration in lit­er­al terms. In her view dif­fi­cult work should be pur­sued with the brav­ery of 17th-cen­tu­ry sailors who sal­lied forth, believ­ing that the world was flat. I sus­pect she’s a tougher cook­ie than cast­ing direc­tor Tay­lor. Wit­ness her dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion between gar­den vari­ety artists and great artists, the month long rub­bish bas­ket task she assigned her stu­dents, and the rig­or­ous­ness of her own prac­tice.

Her fel­low trail­blaz­er Smith has a more mater­nal touch. The path she pro­motes is sim­i­lar­ly twisty, low-pay­ing, and hard, but coun­ter­bal­anced with “the most beau­ti­ful expe­ri­ences.”

Byrne tack­les some of the more prac­ti­cal aspects of com­mit­ting to the artis­tic way. To wit, there’s no shame in day jobs, even if it’s been eons since he was in a posi­tion to need one. He also makes some very valid points about tech­nol­o­gy, below, with nary a peep as to the impos­si­bil­i­ty of con­cen­trat­ing on one’s stud­ies when one is check­ing Twit­ter every two sec­onds. We all stand to ben­e­fit.

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of sev­en books, includ­ing No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In Touch­ing Video, Artist Mari­na Abramović & For­mer Lover Ulay Reunite After 22 Years Apart

Pat­ti Smith Shares William S. Bur­roughs’ Advice for Writ­ers and Artists

David Byrne’s Grad­u­a­tion Speech Offers Trou­bling and Encour­ag­ing Advice for Stu­dents in the Arts

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